Arsenal were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City at the Emirates in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola’s men benefitting from a lightning-quick start to extend their lead at the top of the table to 10 points.
Mikel Arteta’s side looked tired and leggy in the opening exchanges and they were simply overrun. Raheem Sterling missed one chance and then scored with his second, after just 90 seconds, beating Rob Holding in the air for a rare, headed goal. Sterling, Riyadh Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne threatened to run riot, Ilkay Gundogan also coming close, until the Gunners started to grow into the game.
The Gunners made a decent fist of it in the second half but created very few chances, and in the end, they had Bernd Leno to thank for denying the visitors a second goal as he saved well from Gundogan.
It was a miracle that the Gunners were only one down and still in the game at the break. Such was City’s start, that the visitors threatened to run away with it, but Arsenal managed to grow into the match. Arteta will be delighted with the way his side clawed their way back into the proceedings, especially after going a goal down inside two minutes.
Arsenal’s slow start ultimately proved costly. City dominated possession with alarming ease and the home side seemed overwhelmed at times. There were too many passages of play that mimicked a training session for the visitors.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Arteta got his selection and shape wrong. Nicolas Pepe was lost on the right and Martin Odegaard was ineffectual in the No.10 role. Arteta also took a gamble resting Gabriel and David Luiz and replacing them with Rob Holding and Pablo Mari. The risk looked to have backfired in the opening half-hour, though Holding improved after being out-jumped by Sterling for the opener. The introduction of Emile Smith Rowe and Alexandre Lacazette made Arsenal stronger, but it was too little, too late.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 — Leno could do little as Sterling glanced a header into the corner after just 90 seconds, but he made a save to deny Sterling a second at 1-0 shortly afterwards. It says much about Arsenal’s first half that Leno had more touches than Odegaard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Pepe combined. He made a good stop to thwart compatriot Gundogan in the second half.
DF Hector Bellerin, 5 — Bellerin was disappointing. Arsenal’s left-hand side looked so much more dynamic in comparison, and the Frenchman failed to spot Pepe’s runs. He was booked for a mistimed tackle on Gabriel Jesus and was simply not at the races.
DF Rob Holding, 6 — Holding was beaten by the five-foot-seven Sterling for the opening goal, which is inexcusable. However, he recovered to make a key block to deny Gundogan, and then put in an excellent sliding tackle to deny Sterling after the break.
DF Pablo Mari, 6 — Arsenal started slowly and Mari was as guilty as any of his teammates, but as the game developed he started to press higher up the pitch. His passing was impressive at times, too.
DF Kieran Tierney, 7 — The Scot had a tough start against Riyadh Mahrez, but he grew into the game. He linked well with Saka on several occasions and then forced Ederson into a save with a crisp strike. His forward runs seemed to inspire his teammates.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 5 — Elneny played deep and was exposed for much of the first half, unable to stop De Bruyne or Gundogan. He was the weak link in Arsenal’s midfield, and he was partly responsible for Xhaka’s yellow card.
MF Granit Xhaka, 5 — Xhaka got better but he was walking on eggshells after his yellow card. He’s still guilty of slowing Arsenal’s play at times.
MF Bukayo Saka, 7 — In a game of few positives for Arsenal, Saka and Tierney’s link-up play going forward on the left-hand side was impressive. He played some neat touches and was one of the few players to show any quality. Always looked willing to take a risk to try something positive.
MF Martin Odegaard, 4 — The Norwegian looked impressive in midweek but he had few touches here. His game lacked movement and he struggled to force himself on the game at all.
MF Nicolas Pepe, 4 — The winger saw very little of the ball in the first half. It was unfortunate because he made some telling runs that simply weren’t spotted by Bellerin.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 4 — Arsenal’s lone striker had a very quiet game devoid of service. When he did see the ball, his first touch often let him down. Moved to the left following the introduction of Lacazette.
MF Emile Smith Rowe, N/R — The midfielder was lively when he came on, showing some neat touches and working hard when tracking back.
DF David Luiz, N/R — Holding was forced off under the concussion rule and Luiz was solid in his place.
MF Dani Ceballos, N/R — He had little time to impress and he will have wondered why he didn’t come on earlier… or even start the game.